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Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting 2010: September 27, San Francisco

MW_logo.jpgI never liked Champagne until I had the really good stuff. For years I went to weddings and New Year's Eve bashes and dutifully tried all the bubbly, but didn't see what the fuss was about. My lack of experience with quality Champagne was understandable, given how much money I, and the people I hung out with, were typically spending on bubbly. It's a sad reality of the wine world that by and large most quality Champagne starts at about $35 to $40 a bottle, and the really good stuff starts in the $60 to $80 price range.

Once I understood what I was missing, I quickly did everything I could to correct my misguided understanding of what the Champagne world had to offer, but it was not an easy task. There are very few opportunities to taste a lot of Champagnes side-by-side, even if you are a member of the trade. As a consumer, such opportunities are incredibly rare, especially compared to the relative frequency of opportunities to taste, say, as many Zinfandels as you want, or a lot of Rhone Varietals.

All of which brings me to next Monday, September 27th. If you are interested in giving yourself a little education when it comes to Champagne, or if you're educated already and simply want to soak yourself in a few bubbles, then you ought to be in line at 3:00 PM upstairs at the Ferry Plaza Building for the annual Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting.

Put on by the Institute for the Masters of Wine as both a fundraising as well as a general outreach event, this tasting offers an incredible opportunity to taste some of the world's best Champagnes, poured by some of the world's most knowledgeable wine experts. The last one of these tastings I attended, all the top cuvees from Dom Perignon, Salon, Taittinger, Bollinger, Roederer and more were on offer. The Institute claims that this tasting is "the most prestigious tasting of Champagne in North America," and who is going to argue with...The Institute?

Of course, I'm now officially a Champagne fan, and my love for good Champagne has been deepening for several years. I kid you not when I say that not a week goes by when I don't think to myself that I should be buying, cellaring, and drinking more Champagne. And just as soon as we get through this recession, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

In the meantime, I'm going to go hang with the MWs and taste as much as they'll pour me next week. You should too.

Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting
Monday, September 27th, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building, Second Floor
San Francisco, California 94111
ph. 913-385-7376

Tickets for this event are $50 and should be purchased in advance online (the event will most likely sell out, as there is limited capacity). Proceeds benefit the Institute for the Masters of Wine, and in particular their scholarships for aspiring students, I believe.

Comments (11)

09.19.10 at 11:05 PM

I agree Alder and will see you there!

09.20.10 at 7:56 AM

After selling wine in the Midwest for 15 years, I've discovered that most Americans just don't enjoy true Champagne. It seems that the "yeast-y, bread dough-y" character that Europeans love doesn't appeal to American palates. We're all about fruity, so I often recommend Spanish Cava instead: it's crisp, clean and citrus-y, and a lot of fun for $10 a bottle. I realize it doesn't have the fine bead and lengthy finish of a $50 to $100 French bubbly, but Americans haven't learned how to enjoy it anyways: most of the sparkling they buy ends up in Mimosas!

Darren wrote:
09.20.10 at 11:04 AM

I personally beolieve that champagne is not an every day beverage. We have wine for that. Champagne is special...should be used for special ocasions.

Joel Butler MW wrote:
09.20.10 at 11:29 AM

thanks for the press! We will see you there- btw send me your email

amy wrote:
09.20.10 at 4:14 PM

I'm looking forward to it. And happy Lisa is coming down.

Sydney wrote:
09.20.10 at 5:12 PM

@ Darren. I disagree. Champagne IS wine, is it not? And why shouldn't people enjoy it more often? Plus, champagne can be very food friendly.

If drinking champagne means you are celebrating, then I think people should celebrate life more often!


Alder Yarrow wrote:
09.20.10 at 9:30 PM


Champagne is special, but not any more special than any other good wine. I'm with Sydney on this one: Champagne is just wine. And it is a fabulous wine to drink with all sorts of things. My favorites: fried chicken, and oysters (though not necessarily together).


09.22.10 at 2:26 PM

It wasn't until I learned that the champagne bubbles are part of the flavor that it occurred to me that champagne is the best wine in the world. What other wine can you enjoy at breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack? It works in summer and in winter too! On of my favorite champagne pairings is with red bean chili or french fries and a bottle of the widow to wash them down!

- Madeline

Leo wrote:
09.23.10 at 7:35 AM

Hi Alder, I'm curious to know what is your Champagne A-team?

09.26.10 at 10:08 AM

This sounds like a great event, thanks for the writeup!

Neil Dixon wrote:
04.07.11 at 2:40 PM

I actually live in the champagne region. Great Champagne comes from the people who really love making it, not particularly involving the Grand Cru or the big brands (Brands, would you buy Gucci Branded Champagne because they tell you it's the best?) or any of the conceits afforded by snobbery . The Champagnes that are regarded as the best here, amongst the locals, are not always the major labels. Champagne should be experienced every day, it is not just wine, it is as close to the elixir of life as we have managed to acheive! Anti-depressant, fun, and I totally disagree with spending fortunes on it. You can buy fantastic bottles of Champagne, Gold medal winning Champagne for around 30 dollars a bottle if it has been taken care of in shipping and storage it will dazzle you! My neighbours all supply the 'major' houses (note the lack of capitals) with bottles, yes bottles fully vinified, for them to re-label. Maybe time to learn a bit more about Champagne?

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